Microstructure, mechanical properties and wear behaviour of deep-cryogenic-treated HSS

V. Leskovšek, M. Kalin, J. Vižintin

Transactions of Heat Treatment and Heat Treatment 25 (2004) 540–545.


In this paper we compare the wear behaviour of a vacuum-heat-treated ESR AISI M2 high-speed steel and the same steel that was vacuum heat treated in conjunction with a deep-cryogenic treatment at -196°C. Four different tempering temperatures for the specimens austenized at the same austenitizing temperature were carefully selected to obtain various in-advance-determined combinations of the microstructures, the fracture toughness, KIC and the Rockwell-C hardness. Each of the eight specimens was therefore characterised by these microstructures and resulting material properties. The wear study was performed using a reciprocating sliding device under well-controlled contact conditions. Relatively high loads were used to provide enough wear for a comparison of the selected samples. A much harder and dissimilar model counter-material, i.e. silicon nitride ceramic, was used in order to avoid excessive wear of the counter samples and adhesion, which could occur in contacts with similar materials (metals/steels) under such high loads and in non-lubricated conditions. The wear behaviours were then compared and discussed in terms of these microstructures and the related properties. The differences in the wear resistance obtained in our investigation were as high as an order of magnitude. However, the beneficial effects are not a direct result of the type of the treatment, but relate to a proper combination of the resulting fracture toughness and the hardness. The more uniform and moderate values, which, however, tend to be obtained with a deep-cryogenic treatment, are beneficial to the high wear resistance of the selected high-speed steel.

Keywords: high-speed steel, deep-cryogenic-treatment, microstructure, mechanical properties, wear behaviour

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